A success story that will see homegrown COVID-19 testing kits exported to the US is worth $300 million. There’s just one problem.
A success story that will see homegrown COVID-19 testing kits exported to the US is worth $300 million. There’s just one problem.

$300m US COVID testing coup not all it’s cracked up to be

It was cheers all around this week after news broke that Queensland success story Ellume had struck a deal with the Biden administration for $300 million worth of its COVID home testing kits.

"Ellume is another successful Queensland manufacturer rolling up its sleeves to fight the global pandemic and employing hundreds of Queenslanders to do so," enthused State Development Minister Steven Miles.

Yet behind all the hearty backslapping and self-congratulatory pomp, there must have been a bit of teeth-grinding in the State Government.

Because after tossing some public dosh in Ellume's direction a couple of months back in an effort to convert Queensland into a manufacturing hub, the COVID-19 kits supplied to Americans will eventually be made in a new US-based manufacturing facility under the terms of the deal.

The Queensland funding was supplied under the $50 million Essential Goods and Supply Chain program.

But the Government is refusing to say how much it cost Queenslanders.

It insists Ellume's US deal does not offend the conditions of its local agreement, because the company will keep production going at its facility at Richlands in Brisbane's southwest, which now employs more than 300 people.

It underscores the difficulty of creating a bigger and better manufacturing sector when our best and brightest can be poached once they hit the big time after scoring public dollars.

 

Originally published as $300m US COVID testing coup not all it's cracked up to be


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